In dark times, our instinct is always to ‘look for the helpers’ (Fred Rogers). An even stronger instinct, is to actually BE a helper. Personally, this is frustrating me right now as we have been told to do the opposite in many ways. We have been told to take our children and stay at home and do nothing, for our safety and that of others. And yet my heart yearns to the doctors, nurses, cleaners, supermarket stockers and sellers who are on the front line, so to speak. I have no such qualifications, and even if I did, what would I do with my kids?
So that got me thinking… what exactly CAN I do with my kids? I asked them too and together, we came up with quite a few ideas, so I thought I would share these, in case it is helpful to anyone else:
- DO stay at home:
Time and time again, we have been told to do this. While we may remain asymptomatic or suffer only mildly, we can still carry it to others who are more vulnerable and this may only have an effect weeks after. So cancel your play dates, don’t be tempted to ‘make the most’ of this time off, and Stay. At. Home.
We all know the power of dua, and dua done by innocent hearts will Inshallah be heard and answered quickly! Age dependent, you can ask your children to recite 5 salawats, pray and extra 2 rakat salaat for hajaat, recite a tasbeeh of Ammayujeebul, or the short dua no 7 in Saheefe Sajjadiya (When Misfortune Descended and at the Time of Distress). Find something that works for you and your family and do it daily, Inshallah.
- Give charity:
Many of us are supremely fortunate in where we live, the resources we have to stay occupied, and the healthcare system around us. There are millions of others – refugees, those in countries of povery, poor healthcare systems, war-torn countries – who do not have this soft landing to rely on. Many charities are now collecting to help support such people – discuss this with your children (age dependent), and encourage them to give from their own money that they may have. It does not have to be much, but every little helps.
Here are two reputable charities raising for this cause:
- Paint something heartwarming and place it on your window/outside:
Many reports from Italy have emerged of people painting these rainbows with the words “Everything will be all right” and then hanging these off balconies and windows. Such a wonderful way to lift the spirits of those who still have to be outside and out and about!
And how about painting inspirational messages on rocks and leaving them outside for people to find?
(Rocks painted by Sarah Rosser – FB)
Or draw fun, inspirational messages on the pavement?
- Reach out to your neighbours:
Many of us aren’t able to travel far to help people, but what about those in our locality? We may know our neighbours and have a WhatsApp group with them (and if we don’t, then what better time to make one?!), and so we can ask if any on there need any food/groceries, etc.
Becky Wass created this form to hand out to neighbours around her, offering help where needed. These cards can be a good way of getting some exercise in with the kids, and you can select what you can offer in terms of help to make it manageable. Here is the printable pdf: bit.ly/viralkindness
- Uplift and interact with people around you – from a distance:
Although we may have to stay within our own spaces, there are many ways to interact with others around us. There have been numerous uplifting examples of neighbours in Italy and Spain (who are in lockdown) singing and playing music together from their balconies, doing exercise together and even playing tennis from windows! Necessity is the mother of invention – plant the idea in your children and see what emerges?!
- Send care packages to hospitals:
A nurse friend suggested this, saying how overwhelmed, overworked and underappreciated they often felt, and how they would love to receive some support. So get baking with your kids (healthy yummy treats would be very appreciated I’m sure!), and drop them off to a hospital with some home-made cards (maybe with some poems that the children have written?) and let’s try and send them love and support in this way!
- Donate to food banks:
With most religious organisations turning to live streaming, many of the popular sources of food donations to food banks have therefore been shut. One of our neighbours offered to collect food bank items from our street and go once a week to donate them to a food bank, and I thought it was such a lovely idea! So why not have a basket of donations that kids gather over the week, which you can then drop off?
- Send cards to elderly:
As we all know, the group most vulnerable are the elderly. This means that visits to them – whether in their homes or in nursing homes – have been cut dramatically, probably adding more loneliness to their lives. One of the things we could do to help them know they are not alone and they are being thought of, is to send them cards.
Children can make and decorate these cards, write messages inside,, and then these can either be posted or popped into their letter boxes. Imagine their surprise at receiving these hand-made messages!
- Facetime family and friends:
With the elderly that you know amongst family and friends, a great way to cheer spirits is to call regularly. I loved this idea of playing games with them online too – although there are plenty of online games to play together (like Psych), who’s to say you can’t play the traditional games like Scrabble?!
(Jennifer Williams Barnes – FB)
On a similar vein, check out this program to link the elderly with children to create lifelong friendships? Love the initiative – they are looking for both child volunteers (over 7) as well as elderly people who would love some company. Sign up on www.umojaoutreach.org/care
These Quiz cards are pretty awesome! With questions that are suitable for all ages (I was playing them with my 11 and 13 year old as well and we were stumped at some!), there is something for everyone…
It’s a fun way to check how many facts you know on the Quran and Quranic verses, and to learn more along the way!
How many surahs or chapters are named after the Prophets?
Anyone willing to try?!
And to finally wrap up the buloogh series (she says!), how about these Buzz cards?
They each have a poem inside 🙂
Here is an example:
“Now that you are finally nine,
Life’s going to get even more divine!
Ready for the journey ahead, shiny and bright?
Responsibilities await but opportunities too…
Fasten your seat belt and hold on tight,
God’s gifts and blessings are waiting for you!”
Following the success of the unique Interfaith Christmas Card project to the neighbours of our centres (see link below), Alhamdulillah Buzz Ideazz have worked with several centres around London to do the same this Eid!
Yesterday, Hyderi Centre in South distributed 100 of our Neighbour Eid Cardzz tho those living in the vicinity of their mosque. Here is the synopsis:
“Further to this afternoon’s Neighbourhood Club initiative, Alhumdulillah the distribution was completed successfully to 100 of Hyderi’s neighbours. We thank you all very much & esp the members of Hyderi who generously gave up their time despite fasting on this sunny day to personally invite our neighbours. Chocolate boxes, Eid cards & the personal invitation to the Interfaith program tomorrow were v.well received Mashallah.
However noise & talking outside houses late at night was highlighted as an issue that needs to be addressed, with 1 neighbour having to move bedrooms as the noise was very disturbing. Let us please remember to lower our voices & be considerate of neighbours at all times iA.
Insha’Allah we will continue with this Neighborhood Club initiative, continue to hear their thoughts & concerns & make positive changes to foster our relationship with our neighbours for Imam Sajjad a.s explains they have rights on us, we all must fulfill inshAllah. The smile of appreciation from our neighbours was priceless though. May it continue all year long iA.”
Here is the link to the Christmas initiative: www.buzzideazz.com/idea-10-neighbours-of-islamic-centres